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Fossil Fuel Industry Post Astronomical Profits; Actress Geena Davis Unveils Her New Book; "Meme Wars:" The Digital Underworld That Led To January 6 And The Pelosi Attack. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 02, 2022 - 15:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, AMANPOUR: Hello everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up. The fossil fuel industry post

astronomical profits as world leaders trying to mitigate climate change, prepare for the COP27 Summit in Egypt. I'm joined by the U.N. Climate Chief

Simon Stiell. Then --


GEENA DAVIS, ACTRESS: Perhaps that's why I wanted to be an actor. Is because I could try on personalities that were bolder than I was.


AMANPOUR: From dying of politeness to self-described bad-ass, Oscar- winning actor Geena Davis takes me on her trip on and off screen. Also ahead, "America's Meme Wars", Harry Strenavasin(ph) talks to Joan Donovan

and Emily Dreyfuss about their new book on the online battles upending democracy.

Welcome to the program everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. The science is clear as it's always been. The climate crisis is existential and

humanity is still not doing enough to prevent catastrophe. A new report from the United Nations warns that at our current rate, the world is set

for disastrous overheating, 2.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, which is way higher than the goal of 1.5.

The director of the U.N. Environment Program warns that these findings bring with them a hard truth, saying, "in waiting so long to act on climate

change, humanity has denied itself a chance to make a slow and orderly transition to a safer and more sustainable future." The U.N. report comes

amid a spate of new studies. The World Meteorological Organization finds that methane levels are rising dramatically.

And the leading medical journal, "The Lancet" reports that climate change is damaging public health around the world. All the while, gas and energy

giants recording massive profits as ordinary people struggle with skyrocketing bills. This weekend, world leaders will gather in Sharm El-

Sheikh, Egypt for the COP27 Summit.

Where once more, they'll try to come up with a way to reverse this. And I speak about what needs to be done now with Simon Stiell; he's the United

Nations Climate Change Chief. Simon Stiell, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: OK, so it's not good reading. They say, the experts say, you were saying, "the world is close to irreversible climate breakdown." What

possibly can you expect from COP27?

STIELL: Well, the first thing that COP27 needs to achieve is demonstrating a clear shift from the negotiating phase, which was defined by the Paris

Agreement in 2015 at Glasgow last year where Paris defined what needed to be done, Glasgow helped to do it. And now that shift in terms of actually

getting stuff done, implementation, words to action.

So that's the first signal that needs to come out of Sharm El-Sheikh.


STIELL: The second -- the second is demonstrating that we're closing the gap on ambition, whether that's with regard to mitigation, adaptation,

finance or loss and damage. We have to show clear progress on where we were last year in Glasgow. And the third element is looking at those elements

outside of the inter-governmental process.

There is a lot that's happening with the private sector in finance, with philanthropy, with civil society, and demonstrating real action on the

ground there.

AMANPOUR: OK, so if all that happened, that would be just great, only you know, you are well aware of three U.N. reports just this week. The U.N.

Environment Program saying, as I said, falling short of the Paris goals that you mentioned, no credible pathway to a 1.5 degrees, which is the sort

of the benchmark.


U.N. framework, country's current efforts to tackle emissions still leading the planet to at least a 2.5 degrees warming. And the World Meteorological

Organization says main heating gases hit record highs in 2021, alarming surge in emissions of methane. It does not look good. I mean these figures

don't look like you can even meet Paris or Glasgow much less COP27.

STIELL: No, the science is telling us clearly where we need to be and where we are, and we're not where we need to be. We are falling short. But

what we need to be doing, and this phase, this era of implementation speaks about what -- you know, where we see action with everybody, you know,

everywhere across the globe.

Whether it is countries, whether it's companies, whether it's communities, whether it's with individuals, a clear shift in approach, and doing

everything that is possible. And that has to be done every single day. The urgency of where we are, you know, we cannot afford to lose -- can -- a day

in this.


STIELL: We have to cut emissions by half within the next 8 years. It is a mammoth task ahead of us. But what the science also tells us, all of those

reports tell us, the prescriptions of what we need to do, when we need to do it is clearly prescribed. What is lacking is the collective actions of

all parties at this time.

AMANPOUR: The U.S. Climate envoy John Kerry, told me the other day in relation to some of the fears coming out of, you know, Russia and Ukraine,

and we can talk about that. That this is akin to a thermal nuclear explosion waiting to happen. Listen to what he said to me.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: Well, in a terrible way, Christiane, we're undergoing a sort of slow, long kind of

nuclear war with what's happening with the climate. It is devastating. And many of the impacts that we're living through today are irreversible. I

mean, some of the top scientists that I rely on, and one in particular, Johan Rockstrom of the Potsdam institute will say that we've reached a

point where perhaps five separate tracks are now the tipping points. They've tipped. They've tipped.

Arctic, Antarctic, burned sea, the coral reefs and permafrost.


AMANPOUR: So, I want to just ask you, for one ray of hope that you have. Is it in fact out of the Ukraine war that may accelerate countries', you

know, necessity to find sustainable alternatives? Where is one ray of hope that you see right now?

STIELL: We have seen backtracking due to the global energy crisis. But what we've also heard from some of those developed world parties is the

commitment to double down on accelerating the transition to renewables. And the statistics are showing that over this crisis period, record high levels

of investments in the renewable energy sectors.

So there are glimmers of hope. The technology is there. The price points to make this commercially feasible are there. And we're seeing some incredible

-- as if developments on that front. But what we need to see is more of that. We also need to see a deceleration of activities, whether it's coal,

whether it's other fossil fuels. And the accelerated phase out of that across the globe.

And coming out of Glasgow with the historic agreement of the phasing down of -- it wasn't the phasing out that we wanted to see. But to have that in

an international agreement signals the recognition across parties of the need for this shift.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you something?

STIELL: Simply have more -- ask --

AMANPOUR: Yes, can I ask you something? The International Energy Agency says the fossil fuel sector is expected to amass $4 trillion in 2022.


And this past week or these past weeks, including as we speak, energy companies like BP, you know, Shell, Total, all these other ones are

reporting, you know, I mean, massive profits, billions and billions of dollars of extra profits even over and above what they experienced before,

obviously because of what's going on with the rising prices of oil.

Now, Professor Myles Allen of the Oxford University told 'The Guardian" newspaper this. "The combined profits, taxes and royalties generated by the

oil and gas industry over the past few months would be enough to capture every single molecule of CO2, carbon dioxide, produced by their activities

and re-inject it back underground.

So why are we only talking about transforming society and not about obliging a highly profitable industry to clean up the mess caused by the

product itself?" Do you agree with that? Is it actually time to get serious with these companies?

STIELL: Science is clear. And those that are responsible for the continuation of activities that are detrimental to our environments, that

are at the root cause of climate change have to be addressed. One of the reasons why the Secretary-General made the call recently that there should

be windfall taxes on energy companies.

And those resources channeled into -- whether it's loss and damage, whether it is other facilities that are going to assist the most vulnerable.

Everything that is done, again, whether it is at a national level, whether it's in company boardrooms has to be -- has to be Paris aligned. And in

terms of the investments and the financial community, the private finance, investments there need to be channeled through to the transition that is

needed to address the climate crisis.

AMANPOUR: So, I hear you loud and clear, the U.N. Secretary-General himself has said, as you correctly point out this fact. And yet, these

companies, many would say are involved in green-washing. They talk a good game every time we interview them. They say that, look, what we're doing,

we're doing this and we're doing that, and we're plowing this back into alternative research.

But it is a process. And we have to let -- you know, let all this play out before we can actually see -- you know, see a change in what we do. Are you

convinced at all that you can convince these people to do what this professor says, plow back their incredible profits into sinking CO2


STIELL: Well, coming out of this COP will be the presentation of high- level experts and group findings which will start the process of holding two accounts, all of those pledges that we heard last year in Glasgow, $139

trillion worth of pledges. And sifting through those that are genuinely net zero aligned, those that aren't. And to start putting frameworks in place

which holds companies and entities to account.

And one of the roles of the UNFCCC moving forward will be there as an accountability entity that is monitoring, that is tracking, and that will

be holding companies entities to account. Which is absolutely critical if we are to focusing on those that are performing and doing what they're

supposed to do and those that aren't. And the actions that need to be taken there.

AMANPOUR: And meantime, we mentioned methane. That because of the warming climate, and because of a bunch of other sort of biological and chemical

reactions in the ground, methane emissions are peaking in a way that is novel and highly dangerous. What if anything is being done about that?

STIELL: Well, again, coming out of Glasgow last year, there was the methane pledge. When many countries signed up to commitments in reducing

methane emissions, I believe, and I'm not going to talk out of school, but I believe there will be some significant announcements here in Sharm with

regard to further commitments there. So methane as we hear constantly about, MCO2, but there are other gases that are highly damaging.


And commitments by major emitting entities to reduce it. So, the problem is recognized. What to do about it has been defined. And more parties are

stepping up to do that. But again, as the science tells us, in terms of all that is currently being done, it is still not enough. We're far from where

we need to be.

But in terms of your earlier question, there is hope, Christiane, there is hope. And the fact that we know what needs to be done, the political will

for some stronger than others.

AMANPOUR: Right --

STIELL: But I think as we go through this process and this shift that we are going to see in this COP, when we start looking at those actions that

are going to result in accelerated emission reduction. We have to continue putting our shoulder to the wheel and pushing. We can't give up,


AMANPOUR: Do you think therefore that the recent result of the Brazilian election is one of those areas for hope, given what Lula, the winner, the

declared winner of the election has said about, you know, stopping the illegal logging, deforestation and preserving the vital -- the vital Amazon

-- yes, Amazon jungle.

STIELL: Any government, any administration that steps forward with ambitious plans, whether it is in terms of addressing the climate crisis or

the biodiversity crisis has to be applauded. And the more parties that could step forward with aggressive and ambitious plans, and also to be able

to demonstrate that, that translates in real action on the ground is supported by the process.

AMANPOUR: And one last thing, some say that, you know, COP27 where you are, may be, you know, sort of defined by countries such as Pakistan, which

have undergone such terrible consequences because of our pollution, not theirs. Our carbon footprint, not theirs. That the demand for reparations

and compensation, you know, could take up all the oxygen, so-to-speak, at the COP -- at the COP meeting.

STIELL: Well, the fact that loss and damage has been brought to the fore and is in focus, how much oxygen it takes up. I believe it's actually a

positive sign because at last, an issue of such significance, especially for the most vulnerable, and for that to be put on the agenda and discussed

in a substantive way, seeking constructive outcomes can only be positive.

AMANPOUR: Well, on that note, I want to thank you for joining us from Sharm El-Sheikh, Simon Stiell; the U.N.'s climate chief. Thank you very

much indeed.

STIELL: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: And next to an activist for women's representation. The two-time Oscar winner Geena Davis has had quite a career from modeling to acting to

advocacy via a stent in artery. She's had a life to brag about, but just don't ask her to do that. In her new book, "Dying of Politeness", she

describes a New England upbringing of crippling good manners.

While recently promoting her story here in London, she told me how acting in films like "Thelma & Louise" and a "League of Their Own" helped her find



AMANPOUR: Geena Davis, welcome to the program.

DAVIS: Thank you so much.

AMANPOUR: So the book is called "Dying of Politeness".

DAVIS: Yes --

AMANPOUR: And you say in your book, "I was conditioned to think that I must never ask for things, must never put anyone out, so trained to be

insanely polite that I learned to have no needs at all. Even if somebody was handing me an already poured glass of ice water, I was to say, no,

thank you, I'm not thirsty." I mean, it is extraordinary. It was that profound.

DAVIS: Yes, I mean, think about it. If somebody has already gone through the trouble, all you're doing is taking it.

AMANPOUR: And giving them pleasure, probably.

DAVIS: Yes, and now they've poured it for nothing. You know, but I couldn't say yes -- accept anything from anyone.

AMANPOUR: So how did that begin to change? Because you definitely don't appear to be that kind of person anymore.

DAVIS: Yes --

AMANPOUR: And in all those amazing roles that you did.

DAVIS: Right --

AMANPOUR: In the book you say something, I'm going to paraphrase. You know, I became a bad-ass in my roles in movies before becoming one in real


DAVIS: Real before becoming one in real life. And what actually did help me, you know, work myself away from that was playing these parts. And I

think, you know, in hindsight, perhaps that's why I wanted to be an actor is because I could try on personalities that were bolder than I was.


And I -- likely for me, I got cast in some very bold parts. And it's like fake it until you make it. You know, like --


DAVIS: I've got to practice being that way, and then I get to do it in real life.

AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to get to your favorite film and all of our favorite film, "Thelma & Louise" where you're Thelma. But first, I want to

get to the beginning. Your big major breakout role was "Tootsie".






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to kiss Dr. Booster(ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, he kisses all the women on the show, we call him the tongue.



AMANPOUR: You got amazing mentorship from your male co-star --

DAVIS: Right --

AMANPOUR: Dustin Hoffman.

DAVIS: Dustin Hoffman.

AMANPOUR: Tell me a few of the things he said about how to be on -- you know, on the set. How to be --

DAVIS: Right --

AMANPOUR: With male actors. What --

DAVIS: Right --

AMANPOUR: How do you stiffen your spine?

DAVIS: He seemed convinced that I was going to have a career and wanted me to learn everything he could teach me. And so, on the second day that I was

there at lunch, he said, you're coming with me. We're going to Belize, and I didn't know what that was. It's when you watch what you shot the day

before and make sure it's in focus or whatever.

And he said, I think it's very important for actors to watch. Because let's say you thought you're getting something across, but it didn't really come

across. You might be able to put that in another scene. You know, so, you can learn from seeing what it actually looks like. And --

AMANPOUR: So it's very empowering.

DAVIS: Yes, it was very empowering. And so I watch dailies on all of my movies and TV shows and everything, because I find it useful.

AMANPOUR: And so I want to ask you also about the perennial problem of women in whatever job that we have and having to really fend off often male

advances, unwanted male advances.

DAVIS: Right --

AMANPOUR: Again, Dustin Hoffman told you something super important.

DAVIS: He did, he did. He said that it was a terrible idea to sleep with your co-stars, never sleep with your co-stars. It just makes it messy, it

doesn't work. But here's what you say, which is the important part. He said, say, well, I would love to, you're very attractive, but I don't want

to ruin the sexual tension between us. So I scrolled that away.

AMANPOUR: And did you use it?

DAVIS: And I used it only a few -- a couple of months after shooting my model agency took me and some other models who wanted to be actors to

Hollywood. And he happened to know Jack Nicholson, and we ended up having dinner every night with Jack Nicholson while we were there. And one day

after work, I came to my room and I had a note, "please call Jack Nicholson" and the phone number, I was like, oh my God, I'm going to call -

- I'm going to keep this note forever.

Hello, Mr. Nicholson, yes, this is Geena, the model. And he says, hey, Geena, when is it going to happen? Let me send a car around for you. And I

was like, I know what to say. So I said, well, Jack, you know, I have a feeling we're going to work together someday, and I would hate to have

ruined the sexual tension between us. And he was like, oh, man, where did you get that? But it worked.

AMANPOUR: Did you have a good relationship with him afterwards? Did you ever act with him?

DAVIS: No --


DAVIS: I never did. But I saw him --


I saw him around Hollywood. The -- you know --


DAVIS: It was always fun.

AMANPOUR: So tell me about "Thelma & Louise". Because that was not only your huge breakout, but I think it's your favorite film.

DAVIS: Yes --



AMANPOUR: What I love are the stories about how you were doing your auditions for the -- for the -- for the main guy.

DAVIS: Oh, yes --

AMANPOUR: Tell me about that because it is pretty funny.

DAVIS: Right, so once I was cast, they still hadn't cast the role of J.D., the drifter. And they had four finalists, I guess you'd call it for the

role. And they said, will you read with them? So we could just, you know, see how you are together. And so one by one, they would come in, and each

one was incredibly handsome and very talented, and I was like, they're all great. I really don't care.

And then the fourth one to come in was Brad Pitt, who you know, was fairly unknown at that time.


DAVIS: And he was so great in reading the part, but also just charismatic beyond belief. And I was sort of, wow, really struck by how special he was.

And so, he did end up getting the role, but you know, I definitely had a strong opinion that he should.



BRAD PITT, ACTOR: You better slow down, Mrs. Louise, there's a cop up ahead.



AMANPOUR: Did you ever talk about that afterwards? Or did he ever sort of appreciate your role --

DAVIS: Well --

AMANPOUR: In getting him cast?

DAVIS: Believe it or not --

AMANPOUR: Over George Clooney apparently --

DAVIS: Believe it or not, when Brad won his Oscar last year or the --


DAVIS: Year before, in his acceptance speech, he said, I want to thank Ridley Scott and Geena --


AMANPOUR: That's amazing.

DAVIS: Said he wanted to thank -- I was like, oh, that's so wonderful.

AMANPOUR: Of course, you are the winner of two Oscars, "Accidental Tourist" was your first one.


AMANPOUR: Tell me about that film. That's based on a novel by Anne Tyler.



DAVIS: Let me give you my card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I'll bear that in mind. Thank you very much.

DAVIS: Or just call for no reason. Call and talk.


DAVIS: Sure, talk about Edward, his problems. Talk about anything. Pick up the phone and just talk. Don't you ever get the urge to do that?



AMANPOUR: Your co-star was William Hurt.

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: And you write in the book that he had a certain inner darkness about him.

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: How does that manifest?

DAVIS: Well, he was -- he was often, you know, in his own world. You know, it was -- it was hard for him to enjoy what was going on. Maybe he felt a

lot of stress when you're making a film or something, but yes, he was -- he could go to a dark place. And thankfully, my acting coach had heard this

about him. And said, so we're going to prepare you for that.

I think he knew how polite I was. And if we hadn't -- if I hadn't known that beforehand, every minute would have been, what's wrong with Bill, is

it my fault? What should I do? How can I fix him? But instead, he said, you know, you're going to be like your character in real life too. You're going

to be outspoken, you're going to stand too close to him, you're going to -- you know, invade him -- you know, invade his space, and be like the

character. And so --

AMANPOUR: So, you did.

DAVIS: So, I did. And it was so malleable to practice it in real life too.

AMANPOUR: Well, yes, I mean, and that takes me back to a dark moment in your life when you were a kid on your paper route.

DAVIS: Right --

AMANPOUR: Which is pretty shocking story. I mean, you write it with such humor that one can think it's a kind of a joke. But It's really --

DAVIS: Right --

AMANPOUR: Not a joke.

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: What happened?

DAVIS: Yes, so I was ten years old when I had a paper route. And one of the -- one of the houses on my route, there was an apartment in the

upstairs, and this old gentlemen lived up there. And I would go up the stairs and knock. And he started inviting me in. And at first, it was to

give me a cupcake or you know, some treat.

And then he said he wanted to hug, and of course, and sometimes I would eat the thing only when he was hugging me. But then it moved to molesting me.

And I was so naive. I didn't know what it was or what it meant.

And eventually, I asked my mother, what does it mean when he does this, and did it to her. And you know, she flew through the roof, and ran, you know,

stormed up the middle of the road and went and told him off. But yes, and then never explained to me what it was that had happened.

AMANPOUR: And your mother confronted. That's also brave for your mother to confront him --

DAVIS: She did --

AMANPOUR: Although she didn't go to the police.

DAVIS: Yes, I mean --

AMANPOUR: Too polite.

DAVIS: Yes, much too polite, and also other people might know our business, but yes, she didn't -- she didn't never explained to me. All I

knew was, something horrible and embarrassing and shameful had happened. And what was my role in that? You know --

AMANPOUR: That they knew -- the fact that your mother was furious and stood up for you must have given you armor in case any such thing like that

happened to you as an adult or you know, the famous casting couch, all that stuff that we're seeing with the Me Too movement.

DAVIS: But it didn't. No, because I didn't know what it was that had happened.

AMANPOUR: She never explained.

DAVIS: No, she never explained or what my role was or this shouldn't have -- she never said a word to me about what it was. And so, it didn't arm me

to -- because I still didn't know what it was that had happened to me.

AMANPOUR: "A League of Their Own" --

DAVIS: Yes --

AMANPOUR: Is the next big women's movie.

DAVIS: Yes --

AMANPOUR: And again, incredibly successful.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's going to have 14, 16 girls to a team.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sixty four girls --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, what are you, a genius?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, they got over a 100 girls here, so some of you are going to have to go home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sorry about that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are jerks --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean some of us?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, some of them are going home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, how did you do that?



AMANPOUR: You talk about how when you were interviewed about these female movies --

DAVIS: Yes --

AMANPOUR: They asked you whether you were a feminist.

DAVIS: Yes, so when we were shooting, a lot of reporters visited the set, wanted to interview me about it. And one thing they all asked in a sort of

mischievous way was, would you say this is a feminist movie? Thinking like, of course, I'm not going to say that. And I would say, yes. It is. Yes. And

they say, Well, wait, are you saying that you are a feminist? I said, Yes, yes, I am. And they couldn't believe it. It sounds crazy. But they would

say, but you're saying it's OK for me to say that in the article, like they were checking to make sure I wanted to go down that road, you know, I want

to protect you from toxic.

AMANPOUR: The idea of being a feminist and claiming yourself as a feminist.

DAVIS: Yes. Yes.

AMANPOUR: Then sort of the typical collided with you once you got to 40 --

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: -- you were had been a major leading actress with all these roles and an Oscar, and you get to 40. And the Hollywood curse descends on you.

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: And it's that obvious.

DAVIS: It's, well, yes, I mean, and I had heard about this Hollywood curse that the rolls fall away once you reach 40. But I thought, well, Meryl

Streep and her cohort are going to fix that before I get to 40. But even if they don't look at the parts I played, so of course, it's not going to

happen to me. And then to find out that once there was a four in front of my age, yes, things changed dramatically.

AMANPOUR: But you didn't go away.

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: You took up other things.

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: I mean, I was amazed to see you took up archery. Was it at that time?

DAVIS: Yes, yes, exactly. Oh, it's 41 when I was started.

AMANPOUR: Which is pretty incredible to start an athletic career at that age.

DAVIS: I know. But it was only because I found out at 36 that I actually had a lot of untapped athletic ability when I had to learn baseball for

League of Their Own. And I was like, wait a minute, I could be an athlete. And so I've short searched around for what can I take up and I landed on

archery somehow.

AMANPOUR: And you didn't just land on archery became a semifinalist for the Olympics in the American team.


AMANPOUR: And you rose to number 13 in the nation.


AMANPOUR: Pretty amazing.

DAVIS: It was incredible. Yes, I became -- everything I take up, I have to be careful about choosing it, because I will want to go to the Olympics,

and whatever.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's not a bad ambition.

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: But you also then did something, you know, really very profound. You are a mother, you have a kid, she's 22 now, she's not a kid. But that

made you try to change the reality in terms of gender perspectives and gender roles.

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: Tell me about that. And specifically for children, right.

DAVIS: Specifically for children. Yes.

AMANPOUR: Have your institute on that.

DAVIS: Right, right. So, I knew there was great gender disparity in Hollywood, but I had no idea that there would be such inequity in what's

made for the littlest kids. And I saw it everywhere, videos and everything. And I thought, Well, wait a minute. So she's learning. We're teaching kids

to have unconscious gender bias. Because we're saying, boys are more important, always do the interesting things.

And so they, you know, this needs to change. I didn't intend to like launch and Institute about it. But I found that nobody in Hollywood saw what I

saw. Everyone said, that's not true anymore. That's completely fixed. OK.

So they don't know what's happening. That means it's unconscious, and data might open their eyes to it. And so that's what I -- that's what I did, I

decided I would go privately politely to the studios and networks and everybody and share this data with them.

And the result was exactly what I hoped that they were horrified to learn that it was true. And immediately wanted to make change.

AMANPOUR: And it has changed.

DAVIS: Yes, yes. Yes, we've reached parity in the lead characters in both children's TV and family rated film.

AMANPUR: Did you, I mean to go back to your experience. Did you feel after Thelma and Louise, After League of Their Own that here, you know, out and

out women's roles and you've done so well that the battle has been won?

DAVIS: Yes, not only that, I think that but the press for both movies was absolutely universally convinced that this changes everything that was the

big phrase about Thelma and Louise was that now everything is just going to be so many more movies about women with two female characters and all that

and I was like, wow, you know, that's fantastic. And then League of Their Own now there's going to be so many women's sports movies, and wow, I mean,

to have movies that are changing everything and just waiting, you know, for this to happen. And it really, really didn't. And -- So yes, that was --

AMANPOUR: I was struck because I'm, you know, obviously I was found with similar ages.


And I mean, I just absolutely loved film. Everybody did. Right. But I was actually struck by and it was male reviewers --

DAVIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: -- seemed a little intimidated by --


AMANPOUR: -- by the film, even when they were writing the reviews.

DAVIS: Right, right. Yes, it was. There were some women also that wrote editorials about it. But there was a certain segment that was outraged that

we had guns, that what kind of message is this sending now women have to have guns. You know, and they also thought it was a male bashing movie.


DAVIS: Which it still wasn't. I mean, there was a rapist that we bashed severely, but you know, there were all kinds of male supporting characters.

But yes, it really struck a nerve with some men.

AMANPOUR: So do you think you're a badass now?

DAVIS: Yes. Yes, I do. I am able to say that now. And probably feeling ashamed at the same time that I would say that, but yes, I do.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Geena Davis, thank you so much.

DAVIS: Thank you so much. Good to see you. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Now the internet has been redefining American politics as politicians and extremist groups make use of memes. Once dismissed as an

online joke, they now wield significant power to attack opponents and energize a base. Joan Donovan and Emily Dreyfuss investigate this digital

underworld in their new book, Meme Wars. And they join Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the power they wield.

HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR HOST: Christiane, thanks. Joan Donovan, Emily Dreyfuss, thank you both for joining us. We're having this

conversation just days after Paul Pelosi, the husband of the Speaker of the House was attacked, violating his home. And we are finding out more

information about the attacker and how he subscribed to so many of these ideas online that perhaps led him to this attack.

And so first, I guess, for our audience, just a clarification of what's the difference between subscribing to an idea, and a meme.

EMILY DREYFUSS, CO-AUTHOR, "MEME WARS": So any idea has the potential to become a meme, but it only becomes a meme if it resonates and can go viral

and travels through cultures and through people.

So one of the memes that this attacker that this violent attacker we know was interested in and share it online is a meme called it's OK to be white,

which is a slogan. People sometimes think of memes as only being images with some text over them on the internet. But a political meme, a meme

predates the internet and can be anything from a hash tag to a phrase to an image and this, it's OK to be white campaign that this person who attacked

Paul Pelosi subscribed to and cared about Joan and I and our co-author, Brian, have looked into deeply and it was a disinformation campaign left on

the internet for folks like this person to find, and then be taken down the rabbit hole with.

It seems like this person who then ended up attacking the husband of the Speaker of the House was inspired by a lot of these resonant ideas, these

resonant memes that have come to him via the Internet and other ways. And that is what we're talking about when we talk about meme warfare and

mimetic communities.

SREENIVASAN: Joan, you and I have spoken on multiple occasions about sort of different controversies different ways the internet works. And sadly,

when I looked at your book, there were so many examples of what I guess we could consider, oh, that's just the internet, turning into actual physical

violence in the real world.

And you all three of you do a great job of kind of drawing those connections between why it's even important not just to read this book, but

to study what's happening and realize that connection between the online world and the offline world.

JOAN DONOVAN, CO-AUTHOR, "MEME WARS": Yes, I think, to your point, one of the things that our book tries to show is that things online do matter.

They do have political uptake and political consequences. And so we wanted to explain to people how memes were influencing political communication.

And in particular, show it historically by using memes as some of the main characters in the book. So we begin with Occupy which is the Occupy Wall

Street movement, which many people will remember, as a leftist anarchist movement in our chapter on occupy really delves into how the right wing and

the far right as well as libertarians and anarchists learned how to use the internet to their advantage to spread their fringe messaging and so central

figures in that chapter are unlikely to appear and other occupy histories such as Alex Jones, Steve Bannon, Andrew Breitbart, and of course, Rand

Paul, who was leading a very, very large online social movements.


Now, with Occupy, what we show is that ideas do move people off of the internet and into the streets. And we've seen that happen many, many times

with hashtag movements. But what's different about where the book goes is we trace how people get subsumed by these lies, and these disinformation

campaigns and how memes become so important in the transmission of hate, harassment and incitement online.

And so we do a 10 year history, starting with Occupy and ending with stop the steal, because we believe that the internet is fundamentally

revolutionising communications, and with it, all of our social institutions.

SREENIVASAN: Emily, what's also interesting, as you point out, both in the author of in the book is almost like a spiraling effect where there might

be something that exists on the internet, but then a real world incident actually adds more fuel almost creates more memes, and then it goes back

online. And then more people hear about it sort of, you know, in January 6 you started to see that where I mean, stop the steal, as you all point out,

that wasn't by accident that that phrase sort of trended but then with the words that the President was saying, and with what was happening in real

time, you saw kind of an evolution of things.

DREYFUSS: Yes, so it's a cycle. And we call it a meme war. When something happens online, people are excited about it. So stop the steal was this

hashtag phrase that was actually coined by Roger Stone, who registered a website called Stop the Steal in 2015. Because he thought that Donald Trump

would not get the nomination for the Republican presidency, because if we can go back in our minds, remember, the GOP did not want him to be the


So Stone, who was working for him registered this website, in anticipation of being able to launch a campaign to say they stole the nomination from

him. Well, it didn't work. He did get the nomination. So he held that idea, that resonant meme in reserve for when it was needed.

And then the thing about any kind of a conspiracy theory, or an idea or any of these things, is they work, they go viral when they play on something

that feels true, right? You don't -- you don't get conspiracy theories that don't resonate in some way with some kind of part of someone's experience.

And so that idea resonated with some people for various reasons, like all sorts of reasons. And what happens is when it resonates online, then if the

residents get strong enough, they'll go into the real world and do something. And then this is where it becomes a meme war. Because in order

for it to go even more powerfully, and lead to something like January 6, you need in real life, there to be some kind of spectacle or violence or

something that prompts a ton of media attention and attention from other people, which then grows the campaign. And that's what happened with stop

the steal, it grew. It's snowballed. Like they are building momentum.

One of the things that we and I consider myself a member of the mainstream press still, and not just mainstream press, but also like the institutional

government, like the Democrats and the systems that are set up in the government, they kind of saw those things, but we're like, Well, those are

weirdos like that we can ignore or not, or if we can't ignore them, we'll like tisk, tisk them, point out how crazy they are. But we don't need to

worry that they represent maybe like the tip of an iceberg.

But the truth is that when these movements move back and forth online like that, they continue building momentum and building momentum. And all of

those road shows, the stop the steal road shows that people were laughing about and making jokes on Twitter, they contributed to the momentum of

getting people to the Capitol on January 6.

SREENIVASAN: Joan, what was it about President Trump where he understood that this is a form of communication, and he tapped into it in a way that

the political left hasn't and frankly, right now, you see many members of the Republican and further right wing of the Republican Party,

understanding this conversation and saying that this is where my constituents are. This is where my base is, this is what I need to espouse,

or certainly not deny.

DONOVAN: Yes, I think when it comes to trying to understand how the left or the right use memes, there's a couple of fundamental features that our book

outlines about memes in general usually they need to be anonymous.


It should elicit participation that is people should feel like they're part of the messaging. And they're part of the meme war. And Trump and people on

the far right in particular knew this very well. And they also knew that they could use memes to carry their messages without having to show who

they were, without having to show their true motivations.

This kind of communication has gotten a lot easier. It accomplishes the certain goals of power, politics and even fun or chaos.

And on the right, they have recourse to much more transgressive styles of irony and humor that people on the left would find completely offensive.

And so it's not surprising. I'll take a contemporary example right now that you saw the adaptation of a meme like, OK, Boomer, which was something

funny for young people to say to anyone over 30, essentially, about them just not getting it that adapted into OK, Groomer. And it's a trans slur.

And the reason why they chose groomer, and if you watch enough of the media about the people who make these memes, they just lay out their rationale,

which was simply that if you call someone a pedophile online, you would likely be breaking Terms of Service, because you'd be accusing them of a

crime and you would lose your accounts or you lose your tweet. So they chose groomers specifically, because of the content moderation reaction, it

took months and months and months for Twitter to start reacting. But here, we now have, you know, at the dawn of the midterms here, a serious wedge

issue around trans people's right to exist.

And so these content problems or content, moderation problems, do become cultural issues, cultural wedge issues, and they can trade up the chain all

the way into mainstream politics. We have to -- we have to stop thinking about it as low culture, because of someone like Trump who's was very good

at adapting memes that we're already out there. We have to be very careful to make sure that we focus on the political violence committed against the

Pelosis, this is, you know, an assassination attempt that we have witnessed.

And we don't want to be shooting down Twitter misinformation that somehow this was a lover's quarrel or something like that. So, it's really

important that we don't let these kinds of memes get too sticky. Or else we're back into a situation like we were with Sandy Hook, where we're

discussing crisis actors instead of the actual tragedy.

DREYFUSS: You know, a lot of the memes that it looks like this guy who attacked and tried to kidnap and, and hurt Nancy Pelosi and attacked her

husband, a lot of the memes he trafficked in our explicit violent rhetoric, you know, but they'll have a joke as part of it.

And I do think that we in the mainstream media and in the mainstream culture have often considered that if there's a joke, if people are

laughing at it, they can't actually mean it. And that we need to be much more comfortable understanding that people can be serious and laughing at

the exact same time and we need to like we what we're trying to do with Meme Wars the book, is to like, bring back the curtain and say like, the

irony on top is a protective layer, hoping that you will miss the actual dangerous substance behind.

SREENIVASAN: There's a phrase in your book politics is downstream from culture, culture is downstream from the infrastructure and when you're

talking about infrastructure, the internet infrastructure comes to mind. Right now we have a billionaire that successfully has purchased what he

wants to be the town square of the Internet, whether he's successful or not, it's kind of a whole another half hour conversation we could have but,

so Joan, do you think that Elon's takeover good, bad, indifferent unknown?

DONOVAN: For right now, it's unknown what's, you know, I don't have a crystal ball. If I did, I'd be in a different business. But, you know, but

I do think it's -- it is bad to have a single -- the single richest, richest man in the world also in charge of one of the most important

communication platforms globally, given the fact that when he does typically dip a toe into geopolitical issues, he tends to be on the side of

authoritarians. And so, we have to realize that when we talk about infrastructure as an important piece of our politics.


Our politics often reflects the values of our infrastructure. And if our infrastructure is going to be sliding into this direction, where hate

harassment and incitements are part of the normal course of things, then we're going to see that reflected in our politics. And likely, it is

already showing up in these new kinds of political violence, and networked incitement.

SREENIVASAN: Taking a step back, Emily, at some point watching this conversation, we will see this is still Twitter's so an online community.

So what if the richest man in the world owns this thing? Or if, as he recently did, he shares a conspiracy theory in the wake of this attack of

Nancy Pelosi's husband that is totally false, and then he later deletes it. Why does it matter? Why should we care?

DREYFUSS: Twitter has an outsized influence on our culture in America in particular, mainly because of who is on there. You know, Twitter is a

cauldron of elites, in a lot of ways what it happens on Twitter, what trends on Twitter, what the vibe is on Twitter ends up being, you know,

smattered all over televisions on reproduced on, you know, in conversations that people are having in their house like I, you know, my husband, he's

not on Twitter. He doesn't look at Twitter at all. But he'll come home at the end of the day, and the stuff that has been happening on Twitter that

I've been in the bowels of the internet, looking at exactly who made it and where it came in, who retweeted unquote who did it, he comes home, and he

knows about it, because it made its way to the conversations at his office or to the radio because it gets picked up.

So there's one just basic fact like it has an out a louder voice in our culture than other places. Elon Musk represents a kind of technocrat who,

of the Silicon Valley ilk who -- and there is a growing number of folks who have this idea that as technologists, they know more than other people.

And as someone who lives in this area, like I can tell you, a lot of people in Silicon Valley have this sense that hey, like we are the ones who've

made this world the way it is and we know how it works and the government is broken and the system is broken. And this is a techno monarchist mindset

that is insurgent in certain, very powerful circles, OK? And Elon is a part of that.

Elon also is just a powerful troll in the same way that Donald Trump was like he -- he's funny, he's transgressive. He's using the internet in a

silly way riling people up and, you know, it talked to any reporter who has been on the Musk beat or the Tesla beat for years.

You know, Elon has no qualms sticking his networked group of fans on anyone. And we've seen that. I mean, that's what got him sued when he

called someone a pedophile on Twitter. He's willing to engage in kind of targeted harassment that is the thing that can become so problematic. Elon

already had millions and millions and millions and now he owns the actual means of cultural production of this system that has an outsized influence

on our politics.

And so, you know, you've been seeing all of these accounts now that there's been more racism, more N word, more and -- like outright anti-semitic stuff

on Twitter since Musk's takeover. And some people are like has he already changed the algorithm? Is he already tweaking things? And the fact is, you

don't have to tweak the algorithm yet to have to influence what kind of content is on Twitter because you give you can give a message a so you can

make it clear to people make it seem to people like this is OK now. And so they'll do it. They'll engage in it.

SREENIVASAN: Joan Donovan and Emily Dreyfuss, thank you both for joining us. The book is called Meme Wars.

DREYFUSS: Thank you so much.

DONOVAN: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And finally tonight celebrating Switzerland's iconic trains in record breaking style to mark the 175th anniversary of the country's first

railway. The Swiss rail industry has assembled the world's longest ever passenger train with 100 carriages it measured nearly two kilometers and

was powered by 25 electric trains snaking its way through the UNESCO World Heritage Alvaneu line, a masterpiece of civil engineering, it spiraled down

via dogs and valleys to break a 31-year-old world record.

That is it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and of course on our podcast. Thank you for watching

and goodbye from London.